Waking up in the middle of the night, holding one’s calf, turning from this to that side in pain; familiar with this? Then you too are a target of leg cramps like me. They strike usually in the night when we lie on the bed, and sometimes even during the day while we are busy getting work done.
One feels arrested. The muscle just keeps contracting in the calf sending waves of pain right up to your thighs almost crippling your movement for some time. It usually relaxes after a couple of minutes all by itself but leaves a numb and sore feeling in the calf. Sometimes it returns in a few minutes if one assumes the previous standing or lying position.
Usually, a leg cramp occurs after a strenuous work which involves long duration of time while standing in one place, like cooking, mopping and cleaning, washing, invigilating children; climbing stairs many times during the day etc. This does not mean that work always causes leg cramps. No study has proven that, but yes it has been observed that after strenuous work some people do complain of leg cramps.
Sometimes people who have illnesses such as diarrhoea resulting in dehydration, diabetes or chronic illnesses, obesity and heavy thighs, a recent surgery, can all experience leg cramps because of weak resistance.
Pregnant women can also experience leg cramps during pregnancy, especially during the third trimester. There’s no established reason as to why it happens but doctors suggest that it could happen because of weight gain and its proportion, or change in blood circulation affecting the veins in legs because of body weight.
- The first thing to do is not to panic.
- Relax and stretch or turn leg in different directions until one feels that it begins to ease off in a particular position. Once the muscle relaxes, keep leg relaxed for a while in the same position and change position only after a few minutes have passed and the cramp has not returned all this while.
- An old lady’s remedy involves tying a Dopatta or band tightly around the top of knee or thigh of the affected calf and pulling it tight so one feels the blood stops. Then gently ease the grip of Dopatta and the flow of blood relieves the cramp. But pregnant women mustn’t try this technique.
- Apply heat pack on cramping muscle. It can help relieve cramp that has stayed longer than two minutes in a calf.
- When feeling sore after a leg cramp applying a cold pack helps relieve the soreness.
- If one gets cramps regularly then review your work schedule. If one keeps standing too long while cooking or washing, then get a high stool and work while sitting on it in your kitchen or washing area.
- Though there is no established relationship between them, vitamins and calcium to keep your muscles strong and in good shape and prevent leg cramps. Do take these supplements.
- Exercise helps keep calf healthy. Squatting on the floor regularly will tune the muscles to contract and relax easily without causing leg cramps.
- Drink a lot of water to keep your body and muscles hydrated.
So we hope that after reading this, the next time a leg cramp attacks in the middle of the night, you will be better equipped to handle it and go back to your sleep peacefully.